DENVER -- In an interesting turn of fate, the Colorado Rockies found themselves in an old school shootout with the Miami Marlins in the final game of a series with National League Wild Card implications.
Jon Gray has posted ace-quality starts since July 1 but he struggled mightily with his command and the Marlins plated four runs in the first inning raising the pitch count for Gray to well over 30 pitches. A double by Christian Yelich would plate the first two runs of the game and Jeff Mathis added a soft single to right bringing home Derek Dietrich and Yelich to give the Marlins a 4-0 lead.
Charlie Blackmon added a run in the third to put the Rockies on the scoreboard. However, the Rockies first comeback attempt did not last long as the Marlins plated four more runs in the fourth inning, the first two on a double by Martin Prado scoring Adeiny Hechaverria and Dee Gordon. Giancarlo Stanton blasted his second home run in as many days in the same inning, extending the lead to 8-1.
The Rockies showed their toughness, battling back in the bottom of the fourth. The previously struggling Nolan Arenado connected on a solo shot and Cristhian Adames grounded into a force out -- and because the challenge on the slide was upheld, the Rockies would score their third run of the game making it 8-3.
Arenado came back to plate in the fifth inning after a DJ LeMahiue walk and a David Dahl single. The Rockies star third basemen promptly sent his second ball of the day into the seats, drawing the Rockies ever closer to the Marlins at 8-6.
But every time the Rockies would score or threaten to come back, the Marlins had an answer.
Jeff Mathis plated the ninth run of the game in the next inning on a single scoring Ichiro Suzuki.
Arenado responded yet again the following inning on a double, closing the gap to just two runs ... again ... but the Rockies failed to move any closer to the Marlins in this last game of the series; their seventh run was the final run of the game.
This was the worst outing for Jon Gray since July 1. For the Rockies to continue their recent winning ways anchored by extraordinary pitching at Coors Field, they cannot afford to give a team four runs in the first inning. Gray’s next start will have to be more economical and efficient for the Rockies to move up in the Wild Card race.
Despite not winning the series, the Rockies are still only four games behind the Marlins and Dodgers. If the Rockies were swept in this series with Miami, the team would find themselves in a much bigger hill to climb in order to take possession of the Wild Card.
On the bright side for the home nine, Arenado finally had the impact today that the Rockies lineup has grown accustomed to; knocking in five runs and homering twice. Arenado will need to continue his success from today and put his recent slump firmly in the rear-view mirror as the Rockies get ready to take on the Texas Rangers in yet another pivotal series.
The Rangers will cross to the other side of The Wall and begin their Nightswatch tomorrow at 6:40 MST in Denver. Cole Hamels takes on Tyler Anderson in a battle of a crafty and incredibly successful veteran lefty against a guy who hopes to one day be a crafty and incredibly successful lefty.